Suicide Current Affairs - 2020

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October 10: World Mental Health Day

The World Mental Health Day (WHD) is organized by World Federation for Mental Health and is supported by WHO – World Health Organization all over the world. The main objective of WHD is to raise awareness about mental health issues all over the world. It provides an opportunity to the stakeholders to talk about their work and inspire others.

This year WHO is joined by International Association for Suicide Prevention and United for Global Mental Health to support the event.

Theme: Suicide Prevention

This year, the focus of WHD is on suicide prevention. According to WHO, every 40 seconds, a person loses their life to suicide.

Significance

According to WHO, every year around 800,000 people die of suicide all over the world. 79%of the suicides happen in middle – income counties. The people dying of suicides belong to the age of 15 to 29 years. It is the second leading cause of death in the category of age.

The day plays an important role in achieving SDG 3: To ensure healthy lives and promote well – being for all ages. The target is to reduce one third premature deaths from non – communicable disease that includes suicides as well.

India and suicides

According Lancet Public Health journal, in 2018 there were around 2.3 lakh deaths due to suicide. There is no other medical related condition that causes such huge number of deaths.

India is yet to frame policies towards suicides. In 1990, China had the highest rate of suicides in the world. The suicide rates reduced greatly after China reduced the access to pesticides! The other countries who have successful policies on suicide include Finland, Sri Lanka and Scotland.

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Parliament Passes Mental Health Bill, 2016

The Parliament has passed the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016 that decriminalises suicide attempt by mentally ill people and guarantees the right to better healthcare for people with mental illness.

It was first passed in Rajya Sabha in August 2016 and later in Lok Sabha in March 2017. Now it will go to president for assent.

Key Features of Bill
  • Rights of persons with mental illness: It gives every person right to access mental healthcare from services operated or funded by the government. It also includes good quality, easy and affordable access to services.
  • It also provides right to equality of treatment, protect such persons from inhuman treatment, access to free legal services, medical records and right to complain in case of deficiencies in provisions.
  • Advance Directive: It empowers a mentally-ill person to have the right to make an advance directive that explains how they want to be treated for the requisite illness and nominate their representative.
  • Mental Health Establishments: Every mental health establishment must register with the respective Central or State Mental Health Authority. For registration, the concerned establishment must fulfill different criteria as mentioned in the Bill.
  • Procedure and process: It also outlines the procedure and process for admission, treatment and subsequent discharge of mentally ill persons.
  • Community based treatment: It focuses on community based treatment and special provisions for women and health.
  • Mental Health Review Commission and Board: It will be quasi-judicial body responsible for reviewing procedure for making advance directives.
  • It will advise the government on the protection of rights of mentally ill persons’. It will constitute Mental Health Review Boards in states’ districts will help of state governments.
  • Decriminalising suicide: It effectively decriminalises suicide attempt under the section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) by mentally ill persons by making it non-punishable
  • Prohibits electro-convulsive therapy: It will be not used for minors. It will be allowed only with the use of anaesthesia.
Background

The Bill is the first mental health law framed as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which India is signatory. It requires the countries to align their laws with the Convention. The Bill provides “rights-based” approach to mental illness by consolidating and safeguarding the rights of fundamental human rights of the patients. In India, around 6 to 7% of the population suffers from some kind of mental illnesses, while 1 to 2% suffers from acute mental disease.

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